The warm, balsamic and aromatic flavor of oregano makes it the perfect addition to Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines. This popular herb whose name means "mountain joy" is available throughout the year.
Oregano is known botanically as Origanum vulgare and is called wild marjoram in many parts of Europe since it is closely related to the herb that we know as sweet marjoram. It is a small shrub with multi-branched stems covered with small grayish-green oval leaves and small white or pink flowers. In Mediterranean climates oregano grows as a perennial plant, but in the harsher climates of North America, they grow as annuals.
You may have seen a bottle marked "oil of oregano" in a health food store. There are good reasons why!
The volatile oils in this spice include thymol and carvacrol, both of which have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus . In Mexico, researchers have compared oregano to tinidazol, a commonly used prescription drug to treat infection from the amoeba Giardia lamblia. These researchers found oregano to be more effective against Giardia than the commonly used prescription drug.
Oregano contains numerous phytonutrients—including thymol and rosmarinic acid—that have also been shown to function as potent antioxidants that can prevent oxygen-based damage to cell structures throughout the body. In laboratory studies, oregano has demonstrated stronger anti-oxidant capacity than either of the two synthetic anti-oxidants commonly added to processed food—BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated bydroxyanisole). Additionally, on a per gram fresh weight basis, oregano has demonstrated 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and 4 times more than blueberries.
Our food ranking system qualified oregano as a good source of fiber. Fiber works in the body to bind to bile salts and cancer-causing toxins in the colon and remove them from the body. This forces the body to break down cholesterol to make more bile salts. These are just some of the reasons that diets high in fiber have been shown to lower high cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Oregano also emerged from our food ranking system as a bountiful source of many nutrients. It qualified within our system as an excellent source of vitamin K, a very good source of manganese, and a good source of iron and calcium.
While many people think of pizza when they think of oregano, this wonderful herb can add a warm, balsamic and aromatic flavor to many different dishes, especially those of the Mediterranean cuisine.
Oregano is known botanically as Origanum vulgare and is called wild marjoram in many parts of Europe since it is closely related to the herb that we know as sweet marjoram. Its name is derived from the Greek words oros (mountain) and ganos (joy) since not only was it a symbol of happiness, but it made the hillsides on which it grew look beautiful.
Oregano is native to northern Europe, although it grows throughout many regions of the world. It has been recognized for its aromatic properties since ancient times, with the Greeks and Romans holding oregano as a symbol of joy and happiness. In fact, it was a tradition for Greek and Roman brides and grooms to be crowned with a laurel of oregano.
Oregano has been cultivated in France since the Middle Ages and has come to be an important herb in Mediterranean cooking. Oregano was hardly known in the United States until the early 20th century when GIs returning from Italy brought word of this fragrant and delicious herb back to the United States.
Whenever possible, choose fresh oregano over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor. The leaves of fresh oregano should look fresh and be a vibrant green in color, while the stems should be firm. They should be free from darks spots or yellowing.
Even through dried herbs and spices like oregano are widely available in supermarkets, you may want to explore the local spice stores in your area. Oftentimes, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness compared to those offered in regular markets. Just like with other dried herbs, when purchasing dried oregano, try to buy that which has been organically grown since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated.
Fresh oregano should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. It may also be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers. Alternatively, you can freeze the oregano in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews. Dried oregano should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for about six months.
Fresh Oregano should be added toward the end of the cooking process since heat can easily cause a loss of its delicate flavor. It is best to add dried Oregano at the beginning of the cooking time.
For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.
Oregano is an excellent source of vitamin K and a very good source of manganese. It is also a good source of iron, dietary fiber and calcium.
Oregano, leaf, dried
GI: very low
|vitamin K||12.43 mcg||14||46.9||excellent|
Density>=7.6 AND DRI/DV>=10%
Density>=3.4 AND DRI/DV>=5%
Density>=1.5 AND DRI/DV>=2.5%
|Oregano, leaf, dried|
(Note: "--" indicates data unavailable)
|GI: very low|
|BASIC MACRONUTRIENTS AND CALORIES|
|Fat - total||0.09 g||0|
|Dietary Fiber||0.85 g||3|
|MACRONUTRIENT AND CALORIE DETAIL|
|Total Sugars||0.08 g|
|Soluble Fiber||-- g|
|Insoluble Fiber||-- g|
|Other Carbohydrates||0.45 g|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0.01 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||0.03 g|
|Saturated Fat||0.03 g|
|Trans Fat||0.00 g|
|Calories from Fat||0.77|
|Calories from Saturated Fat||0.28|
|Calories from Trans Fat||0.00|
|Vitamin B1||0.00 mg||0|
|Vitamin B2||0.01 mg||1|
|Vitamin B3||0.09 mg||1|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin Equivalents)||0.16 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.02 mg||1|
|Vitamin B12||0.00 mcg||0|
|Folate (DFE)||4.74 mcg|
|Folate (food)||4.74 mcg|
|Pantothenic Acid||0.02 mg||0|
|Vitamin C||0.05 mg||0|
|Vitamin A (Retinoids and Carotenoids)|
|Vitamin A International Units (IU)||34.02 IU|
|Vitamin A mcg Retinol Activity Equivalents (RAE)||1.70 mcg (RAE)||0|
|Vitamin A mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE)||3.40 mcg (RE)|
|Retinol mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE)||0.00 mcg (RE)|
|Carotenoid mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE)||3.40 mcg (RE)|
|Beta-Carotene Equivalents||20.41 mcg|
|Lutein and Zeaxanthin||37.90 mcg|
|Vitamin D International Units (IU)||0.00 IU||0|
|Vitamin D mcg||0.00 mcg|
|Vitamin E mg Alpha-Tocopherol Equivalents (ATE)||0.37 mg (ATE)||2|
|Vitamin E International Units (IU)||0.54 IU|
|Vitamin E mg||0.37 mg|
|Vitamin K||12.43 mcg||14|
|INDIVIDUAL FATTY ACIDS|
|Omega-3 Fatty Acids||0.01 g||0|
|Omega-6 Fatty Acids||0.01 g|
|14:1 Myristoleic||0.00 g|
|15:1 Pentadecenoic||0.00 g|
|16:1 Palmitol||0.00 g|
|17:1 Heptadecenoic||0.00 g|
|18:1 Oleic||0.01 g|
|20:1 Eicosenoic||0.00 g|
|22:1 Erucic||0.00 g|
|24:1 Nervonic||0.00 g|
|Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids|
|18:2 Linoleic||0.01 g|
|18:2 Conjugated Linoleic (CLA)||-- g|
|18:3 Linolenic||0.01 g|
|18:4 Stearidonic||0.00 g|
|20:3 Eicosatrienoic||0.00 g|
|20:4 Arachidonic||0.00 g|
|20:5 Eicosapentaenoic (EPA)||0.00 g|
|22:5 Docosapentaenoic (DPA)||0.00 g|
|22:6 Docosahexaenoic (DHA)||0.00 g|
|Saturated Fatty Acids|
|4:0 Butyric||0.00 g|
|6:0 Caproic||0.00 g|
|8:0 Caprylic||0.00 g|
|10:0 Capric||0.00 g|
|12:0 Lauric||0.00 g|
|14:0 Myristic||0.00 g|
|15:0 Pentadecanoic||0.00 g|
|16:0 Palmitic||0.02 g|
|17:0 Margaric||0.00 g|
|18:0 Stearic||0.01 g|
|20:0 Arachidic||0.00 g|
|22:0 Behenate||0.00 g|
|24:0 Lignoceric||0.00 g|
|INDIVIDUAL AMINO ACIDS|
|Aspartic Acid||0.02 g|
|Glutamic Acid||0.02 g|
|Organic Acids (Total)||-- g|
|Acetic Acid||-- g|
|Citric Acid||-- g|
|Lactic Acid||-- g|
|Malic Acid||-- g|
|Sugar Alcohols (Total)||-- g|
|Artificial Sweeteners (Total)||-- mg|
Note:The nutrient profiles provided in this website are derived from The Food Processor, Version 10.12.0, ESHA Research, Salem, Oregon, USA. Among the 50,000+ food items in the master database and 163 nutritional components per item, specific nutrient values were frequently missing from any particular food item. We chose the designation "--" to represent those nutrients for which no value was included in this version of the database.